Leadership Academy | Echocardiographers thrive following pilot resilience programme

Last November we launched our pilot Resilience in Leadership programme, the first phase in the development of our Leadership Academy.

The programme was run in partnership with The Kairos Project with the aim of improving the resilience of echo team leaders in order to help them support their teams, at a time when resilience and wellbeing was more vital than ever.

The course was designed pre pandemic in recognition of the ever-increasing burden falling on teams as a result of the shortage of echocardiographers. The issues were further amplified by the pandemic and so the course became even more critical.

Initially planned for six participants, we were overwhelmed with applications and eventually rolled out the programme to eleven echo leads. The group was widely spread geographically and included a cardiologist as well as physiologists and scientists.

We received very positive feedback about the programme and we are delighted to announce that we are now open to applications for the second cohort.

In order to give you the best insight into the programme we asked two of the participants in the pilot to tell us about their experiences:

Dave Hatton

It will come as no surprise that there is a sense of fragility to the well-being of NHS workers following the last 18 months (clinical and administrative) and the very real possibility of staff burn out being on all our minds. No doubt we have all seen and experienced examples of this locally, professionally and personally.

The implementation of what I’m sure will be the first of many phases of a new Leadership Academy by the British Society of Echocardiography couldn’t have been more timely or needed. The broad purpose of the programme was to first look at the individual well-being and resilience of NHS staff to ensure that they, as individuals & leaders, are best equipped to ensure the teams around them are getting the best possible version of them possible.

The platform took several forms and inclued one to one coaching support from the very impressive Kairos project, peer-to-peer facilitated group learning and leadership learning modules. The programme provided a safe space to process stress, change and uncertainty whilst looking individually at how we as a leadership group could help one another to be the best possible version of ourselves.

The programme provided a unique opportunity to equip echocardiography leaders with tools and skills to build resilient teams but moreover has ensured a network of like-minded colleagues for which I will be forever grateful to have made an acquaintance. The network has proved invaluable and resulted in extensive discussions amongst peers on a range of subjects common to us all as echocardiography teams. The ability to learn from one another on any number of subjects is unique....from service provision, service review, to triage, personal and individual development, to departmental models of working, productivity, outsourcing and reporting...the list goes on.

Mostly, I’m grateful for the support received to ensure I am offering my team, the best version of myself, because of the lessons learned during this programme.

Kam Rai

When I received the email to state that I had been successful in my application for the BSE Leadership resilience programme, I knew that it would result in my team becoming more cohesive, stronger and happier however I did not think for one moment that it would literally change my life and create a ripple of butterfly effects.

When the BSE advertised this unique opportunity, I had been stood at a crossroad of decisions for many months, not wanting to take any particular road, not quite being brave enough but knowing that I must choose a path. During that time I was torn between options, confused and in desperate need of guidance that I could not find. It’s almost as if the BSE knew how desperate I had become when they proposed this programme to all echo leaders. So unsurprisingly, I jumped at this opportunity like a float in turbulent waters.

I flung myself into the programme with the hope of rehabilitation. It did not disappoint. The programme allowed me to establish links with other heads of echo where we bounced ideas off each other, collaborated, discussed and explored solutions to problems within the world of echocardiography services. The buddy system provided me with my own echo comrade, whom I could confide in and one on who could be depended with the added benefit of mutual understanding of the issues we face as service leads.

In addition to this, the regular one-to-one coaching had me performing techniques to manage stress and taught me how to re-gain control over my emotions and how I choose to react in certain situations. This definitely taught me resilience.

Over the course of the programme, I gained insight into echo services across the country, became a better, improved version of myself and was empowered to face my crossroad of decisions, something I would not have done had it not been for the programme. I was determined once I made my decision and it created a tsunami of action that changed the shape of the future of the echo service, the department and the whole of cardiology!

I am indebted to the programme. In a new world where it is becoming increasingly difficult to work within a selfless humanitarian service, there is hope and there are people out there to pick you up when you fall.

Thank you BSE, The Kairos Project and to my fellow echo leaders who continue to provide support and guidance – you know who you are!

As a result of this positive feedback from participants, a new resilience programme will run from December 2021.

Dr Tom Ingram, Co-Chair of Clinical Standards, said "We are delighted that the first project under the Leadership Academy umbrella has been so impactful. We would like to thank The Kairos Project for delivering the programme and the participants for being open to being part of a pilot which was unlike most NHS training programmes. Following the success of this first round, it is a great pleasure to be able to offer the programme to a second cohort of echo leaders."

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